NJPW DOMINION 2019 [Review]: Rain Meet Pain.

Non-Title: Jon Moxley v Shota Umino – Stupid booking. OK, so I get that you want Moxley to look strong heading into G1. That’s inevitable. So a squash match over a Young Lion accomplishes a few things: 1.) Allows Mox to have the “night off” heading into a grueling tournament his body has never been out through, 2.) Gives Mox his first title defense while looking strong, 3.) Gives Mox the “G1 announcement spot” early in the card. That all said, this is Dominion — what has traditionally been New Japan’s second biggest card of the year. That’s clearly no longer the case; it’s the G1 Climax. Regardless, Mox did look strong and mixed in some solid mat wrestling, brawling and high impact moves. This was fine while it lasted. – 2.75/5

MOXLEY IN THE G1!

Shingo v Satoshi Kojima – As expected, this was a really fun, hard hitting contest between a great strong style legend and his seemingly new successor. It’s almost like watching current Koji versus Young Koji. Props to Satoshi for getting extra motivated against the undefeated-till-the-BotSJ-Finals Shingo, putting some extra thunder on those knife edge chops, nailing an apron faceplant DDT and taking the very best of The Last Dragon throughout the match. – 3.5/5

SHINGO IN THE G1!

Jushin Liger & YOSHI-HASHI v Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr – I really can’t stand YOSHI-HASHI. Begone already! The guy sucks. I know he’s had matches with Naito, Goto and others in past G1‘s that hovered around and above 4-stars, but that’s par for the course. Almost everyone has a great match in that tournment. And there’s no doubt that him and ZSJ will wind up having a good, if not great, RPW British Heavyweight title match. I’m just over his character. Been over it. Even Don Callis suggested an excursion for YOSHI, and to Siberia, mind you. As far as this tag match itself, it was good thanks to the great Suzuki-Gun team. No one ever mentions Minoru and Zack among the best tag teams in the business — due to how awesome they are in singles — but, really, it’s time to list them among the top of the ranks. Going surprise win with HASHI, and making him look “strong” post-match was about the best thing Gedo could have possibly came up with. It’s whatever. – 3/5

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Taguchi, & Juice Robinson v Jay White, Chase Owens, & Taiji Ishimori – This really wasn’t anything. Do you even remember seeing Ishimori in this match? And is it just me, or does the great Bone Soldier disappear during multi-person matches? #GhostSoldier ..The only reason they booked this thing in the first place was to make sure everyone got on the card and get the big Tanahashi pop. Once Owens was in the ring with the great Tana about 8-minutes in you knew it was over. – 2.5/5

NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii v Taichi – Hey, I predicted this would be a 3.75-match and it wound up even better. I knew Ishii was the man to bring out the best in Taichi and I’m almost sad that Big Tomo won. Taichi looked great in defeat, but he clearly needs this strap more than Ishii especially if he’s going to look this great. As far as strikes, this was even more hard-hitting than Shingo/Koji and Taichi’s karate kicks are some of the meanest in the game. Best of all, they had a wrestling match. Other than one, effective heel spot where Taichi shoved Red Shoes into Ishii, there was hardly any tom foolery. A motivated Taichi is an extra solid Taichi and he more than held his own. Although it’s been going on for a while, I wouldn’t mind seeing this rivalry continue. And how about Taichi in the G1? If he brings the fight like this, it could be fun to watch. – 4/5

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Guerillas of Destiny v EVIL & SANADA – This was just OK. I wasn’t thrilled by the match announcement (how many times are we going to see these two teams battle?), and the NJPW tag divisions are just as stale as WWE’s. Tag team wrestling is clearly not on Gedo’s priority list, or maybe NJPW is just handicapped by how many amazing singles competitors they have, as they clearly focus on stacking up tournaments like BotSJ and the G1. Bushi’s run-in added a little spice to the mundane action in the ring, but it was a clear reminder that EVIL & SANADA are heavily underutilized — and that G.O.D. belong in ROH. – 2/5

KENTA IN THE G1! YES, THAT HIDEO ITAMI GUY…

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay v Dragon Lee – As expected, this was the best match on the show, just super-super-super and maybe Dragon Lee’s best performance in New Japan. Considering how crazy his matches were with Hiromu, that’s saying something. Believe it or not, both Os and Lee worked a safe high-flying affair. Everything just looked so damn crisp and fluid out there, other than the wildest fucking tope suicido I ever witnessed. Dragon Lee shot over the second rope like a mad rocket and pierced Ospreay over the baricade into the crowd! It was unreal. But maybe the wildest spot in the match happened when Lee RANA’s Ospreay over the ropes onto the floor.. only to NOT WATCH the Aerial Assassin land on his fucking feet! Yeah, shock the system. Following some great knees and a failed Desnucadora attempt, Os hit his triumphant trifecta of Hidden Blade, Super Oscutter and Stormbreaker. Game. Set. Match. New champ! The only thing holding this two back from a higher rating is that Shingo/Ospreay epic encounter that happened just a few days prior. – 4.5-4.75/5

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito v Kota Ibushi – Another amazing match between two of the most loved pro wrestlers in the game. Funny enough, Naito was both loved and hated here in Osaka; but one thing’s for sure, the New Japan faithful all had smiles on their face after witnessing another terrific contest between the two. Same as the G1 Supercard, the only thing preventing this from being superior or perfect were the amounts of stupid spots that saw both guys taking real falls on their head or neck. I suppose their life/death guy is to perish in the ring together. The side of Ibushi’s head took a real nasty, downright ugly fall via Naito German on the apron. OUCH! If that wasn’t enough, the LIJ leader nailed Ibushi with a super poison RANA! Naito’s neck would later got crunched via tombstone. They’d both go into a counterfest with numerous nearfalls and almost finishes until a second Destino secured the title back around Naito’s waste. Incredible stuff. – 4.5/5

IWGP Championship: Kazuchika Okada v Chris Jericho – This match was well on its way of becoming yet another Dominion main event classic until.. it just ended. An abrupt finished nearly killed a valiant effort by both men; first, Jericho looked much lighter on his feet here than in his main event match against Omega at Double Or Nothing. Jericho mixed in his usual great character work and looked crisp in all his signature spots. What started off as an outsider brawler wound up a competitive in-ring wrestling match, with Okada, of course, doing most of the heavy lifting. What I loved about the match was Okada doing his damndest to match the street fight Jericho brought outside, while also hitting timely “Y2J classics” like a well-timed Codebreaker. Okada is just so fucking good. But as soon as the intensity really started to heat up — mind you, the crowd was super invested in Okada as the babyface and Jericho as the North American asshole heel here — the match ended abruptly with a somewhat cheesy cradle victory for Okada. While it makes sense on many levels (Jericho is protected in the loss; Okada keeps the strap, building to another possible match; and Tana’s post-match run-in builds up another feud for Jericho), I just hated how this ended. Maybe Jericho ran out of steam, or it was the finish to build up to more stuff. But, again, this is Dominion… which I guess in itself doesn’t mean a whole lot now. Great match, weak finish, damn shame. – 3.5-3.75/5

Overall = 3.25-3.5/5 Bibles.

“Monsignor” Travis Moody
@TravMoody

The two days of Dominion in 2020 announcement surprised me, as this card — while spectacular for many moments — didn’t feel much different from any other New Japan card except when it came to drama. There was tons of it! Tons of announcements sprinkled in between some really good to great matches. Overall, it was a highly enjoyable show that only fails to live up to the great legacy of the name Dominion. Definitely go out of your way to see the NEVER title match and the last three contests, as despite the strange finish Jericho worked really well with Okada (I know I’m in the minority here, but whatevs).

See you all on July 6th!

-Travis Moody

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